Research for writers, world builders, and other types of nerds

Over the weekend I had the great pleasure of presenting at Emerald City Comicon with a panel of librarians (new bffs Erin Fields, Melanie Cassidy, and Samantha Mills) on open access research tools for writers and world builders. You can view our very helpful presentation website here: 

Screenshot 2016-04-12 11.25.08

My section of the panel covered open access and public domain images that can be used when creating comics, graphic novels, or as visual references for written stories. These are the kinds of resources I rely on when creating comics like The Adventures of Eleanor Twitty, Librarian.

  • NYPL Digital Collections – 194,570 public domain images and items, including letters, photographs, illustrations, maps, and more. Looking for lots of images you can use freely? You can browse just the items that have no known U.S. copyright restrictions.

The Property Tax – LC-USZC4-6859

  • The Digital Comic Museum – Thousands of public domain, easily downloadable golden age comics. A great place to look at layouts, structure, and cover design. All comics listed are copyright free and in the public domain. Users must only register for a free account to download. Also a good resource for war time propaganda, early 1900s newspaper comics, sexism and racism in early comics, and much more.
  • Flickr Commons – The Commons  is a catalog of the world’s public photo archives. The key goal of The Commons is to share hidden treasures from the world’s public photography archives. A large number of worldwide museums, archives and community collections participate. You’ll find historical photos of people, animals, nature and architecture from all over the world, from the whole history of photography.
  • Digital Public Library of America – The Digital Public Library of America brings together the riches of America’s libraries, archives, and museums, and makes them freely available to the world. It strives to contain the full breadth of human expression, from the written word, to works of art and culture, to records of America’s heritage, to the efforts and data of science.


“Katherine Stinson preparing biplane for takeoff,” 1908. Courtesy of the Missouri History Museum via the Missouri Hub. SOMEONE PLEASE MAKE A COMIC ABOUT EARLY 20TH CENTURY LADY PILOTS!

  • British Library – As one of the world’s greatest research libraries, the British Library’s collections and expertise are used daily by authors, scientists, TV and film producers, businesses, genealogists and academics. With 150 million collection items the potential for product development and licensing is limited only by the imagination.
  • Google + LIFE’s photo archive – Search millions of photographs from the LIFE magazine photo archive, stretching from the 1750s to today. Most were never published and are now available for the first time through the joint work of LIFE and Google. Public figures, notable events, cultural touchstones, iconic places..